RSPB DungenessDungeness
Nature Reserve
Boulderwell Farm
Dungeness Road
Lydd
Kent TN29 9PN  
 
 

Tourists to Britain who are interested in birds and unique natural habitats might consider visiting Dungeness on the south-east coast of England.  The National Nature Reserve includes a bird observatory and the RSPB Reserve.

 
Dungeness is one of the largest shingle banks in the world and its exposed position has created unique habitats for rare plants, insects, spiders and amphibians.  It is an important refuge for migratory birds.
 
The RSPB manage large areas of gravel pits, reed beds and shingle habitats which have strong colonies of seabirds, breeding duck and wintering wildfowl.
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here:     External Link
 
Shingles, houses, fishing Hamlets, Lighthouses as well as Electricity Generation
The great shingle promontory is a fascinating mix of a fishing hamlet, lighthouses and industry with two power houses and armies of electricity pylons marching across the marshes.  It is a prime example of how nature can survive and thrive even in these environs.
 
Dungeness is the southernmost terminus of the RHDR miniature railway (Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway) which runs regular services throughout the year, or it can be accessed by road from Lydd and the south-east coastal road from Folkestone.
 
Starting at the Visitor Centre, a 2 mile (3.2 km) nature trail circles the Reserve with 6 hides at viewing points.  Identification charts are provided in each hide.  The track surface is largely hard-packed shingle with two stretches of short grass.
 
The well-equipped Visitor Centre overlooks the large gravel pit where water birds gather.  You get a good view of the birds through the huge picture window and it is a cozy spot to sit on a cold winter's day.  Staff is on hand to identify the birds for you.
 
Opposite the entrance to the Reserve is the Hanson ARC site which has a hide and a viewing screen. Two trails, each 380 metres in length, lead to the hide and the screen.
 
Seasonal Viewing
Spring (mid March to May)
The Reserve is filled with birds in full mating plumage competing for territory and mates.  This is the time to see sand martins, wheatears, black redstarts and yellow wagtails.  From mid-April there will be cuckoos, sedge and reed warblers and whitethroats nesting.  Passing through on migration are willow warblers, chiffchaffs, and blackcaps.
 
Waders passing through may include bar-tailed and black-tailed godwits, whimbrels, redshanks, greenshanks, green and common sandpipers, little ringed plovers, avocets and ruffs.  Look out for lapwings displaying over the fields.
 
Summer (June – August)
The chicks have hatched and are taking their first look at the big wide world. Cormorants will be busy feeding their young whilst cygnets, goslings and ducklings will be much in evidence.
 
The aerobatic Hobbies (falcons) may be seen hunting insects over Hooker's pits. Throughout July the reserve will be ablaze with the colourful flowers of viper's bugloss and yellow-horned poppy.
 
Masses of dragonflies and butterflies are on the wing. Species most likely to be seen include red admiral, small tortoiseshell and common blue but there may also be influxes of migrant species such as clouded yellow and painted lady.
 
Autumn (September – November)
The time to see large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter.  In September migrating species include whinchats, redstarts, wheatears and ring ouzels.  September is a good time to see sand martins, swallows and house martins feeding over Burrowes' pit.
 
October and November are the months for sighting goldeneyes, smews, goosanders, marsh harriers and hen harriers. As the weather gets colder flocks of linnets and greenfinches, goldfinches, siskins, and chaffinches may be seen.
 
Winter (December – February)
Large flocks of birds gather to feed, or fly at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm - snow quite often falls in this part of Kent.  Bewick's and whooper swans may roost on the Hanson ARC pit.
 
Water birds are the main attractions during the winter months.  Among the large numbers of birds to be seen are wigeons, gadwalls, goldeneyes, smews, teals, mallards, pintails, shovelers, pochards and tufted ducks.  Large flocks of greylag geese may be joined by white-fronted geese.
 
Merlins, peregrines, hen harriers and marsh harriers should be seen regularly. Barn, short-eared and long-eared owls may also be found during the winter months.
 
Migratory birds such as stonechats, gold crests and green finches are regulars and Cetti's warblers and bearded tits should be present, particularly around Hooker's pits.
 
The star species of Dungeness Reserve are the Bittern which come when the cold weather in Europe forces them to move to sites where they can still catch fish.  The Little Ringed Plover spends the summer on Dungeness; the Slavonian Grebe are scarce but can be seen diving in the pits during winter; the delightful Smew ducks are winter visitors and the Wheateasr arrives in spring to spend the summer.
 
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:    External Link
 
Open
Reserve open daily all year except December 25/26
09:00 – 21:00 (or sunset if earlier)
Visitor centre is open daily all year except December 25/26
10:00 -17:00 (16:00 November - February).
 
Admission Price
RSPB and Wildlife Explorer members free
Non-members: Check the official website for up to date prices.
 
Facilities
Visitor & Information Centres
Two car parks: one at Visitor Centre, the other at the Hanson ARC site.
Toilets including Disabled
Shop selling books, bird food, hot & cold drinks, confectionary
Picnic area
Hides (wheelchair friendly)
Binoculars for hire
Guided walks available
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0) 1797 320588
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website  RSPB Reserve Dungeness    External Link
 
Getting There
- By road
One mile out of Lydd on the Dungeness Road turn right for the the main site. The visitor centre and car park are one mile (1.6 km) along the entrance track. The entrance to the Hanson ARC site and car park is opposite the main reserve entrance on the left of the Dungeness Road.
 
- By Heritage Rail
Travel by the delightful Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway
 
For further directions, please go to the Dungeness article in this website.
 
Google Maps - RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve